The use of drones or the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has become very rampant. The United States was the first country to use drones in 2001. Currently, over 28 countries have drones as part of their arsenals and nine have been known to have used them in operations. The United States the largest researcher, producer, and user of military drones. The country’s budget for drone stood at $2.4 billion as per the request by the military with $1.2 billion being channeled top MQ-9 Reaper which is the man drone used in offensive strikes. On the other hand, Israel is the largest military UAV exporter in the world with revenues from 2005-2012 amounting to $4.62 billion (Walker, 2017). Israel development into the military drones has been facilitated by having the early technology of UAVs for surveillance, the need for good defense due to hostile neighbors and the longtime reluctance of the US to share its drone technology. China is another country has experienced an increased use of drones and exporting systems to other countries. China has entered into a deal with Saudi Arabia to establish military UAV in Saudi Arabia.
Among the cultural factors that favor the proliferation of drone technology include improved regulatory framework. There has been a growing demand for drones in the commercial sector making a shift from the military drones. The growing demand for high quality and real-time data have also favored the growth of drone sector.
Some celebrities have taken up the idea of drones with interest and have been sharing their experience online. Martha Stewart, a celebrity renowned for fine food and elegant living have shared tweets about her drone flying training sessions as well as photos of her farm taken with drones. Jamie Foxx, the Django Unchained Star made a public Instagram post showcasing the carrying case of Dronefly. Enrique Iglesias uses drones as camera-carriers during his performances (Droneblog, 2016). While no drone company has directly contracted celebrities to do an endorsement of their products, followers of some of these celebrities sharing drone moments tend to be influenced and acknowledges that as indirect endorsement.
In the USA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for making several regulations. Some of these laws have hindered the growth of drone market growth. One of the most restrictive rules is the “line of sight rule” that requires that drone operators keep the unmanned aircraft within eyeshot at all time. This implies that the drones cannot be applied to make deliveries. The FAA requires those interested in having drones to acquire a remote pilot certificate. The FAA has outlined a set of guidelines dealing with drone operation via Public Law 112-95, Section 336-Special Rule for Model Aircraft. The rules relate to pilot requirements, aircraft requirements, location requirements, and operating rules. Various states in the USA have supplemented the federal laws by enacting local drone regulations. These include Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia (Meola, 2017). The use of drones has been expanded to include non-commercial uses and with some rules. In commercial use, drones have been allowed for the commercial production of TV programs and movies.
One of the most notable lawsuits in the United States concerning the use of drones filed by The Federal Aviation Administration against Skypan was settled early this year. In this lawsuit, Skypan was charged with the offense of taking aerial cityscape photos between 2012 to 2014 without having the required government approval. The company has committed the crime of flying a drone for commercial purposes and over a highly populated area. It’s important to note that these were illegal by that time. For this, the company was fined $200,000. Part of the settlement agreement indicated that the company would be charged $150000 for not comply with FAA regulation in the following year and another $150000 for the failure of observing the settlement agreement (Dalieda, 2017). There were also compelled to help FAA in making public announcements encouraging people operating drones to comply with the laws.
Drone technology comes at a cost, one that organizations and businesses are ready to bear if their efforts in drone technology are reaping maximum results. A report by Goldman Sachs indicated that military expenditure in drone technology will remain the highest source of expenditure for drone technology. The estimate values offered indicate that militaries all over the globe have expenditures related to drone amounting to excess of $70 billion by 2020. In the United States, one Predator drone is estimated to cost over $4 million while the entire program is scheduled to cost over $2.4 billion.
In the past, the use of drones was limited due to high costs involved which only left the military as the only sector able to acquire them. With increased economies of scale, private consumers can acquire these pieces of technology for about $60. Businesses such as Amazon are exploring the use of drones to increase the efficiency of delivery service. A recent study put the drone technology regarding economic numbers. A study done recently estimates that between 2015-2025, the inclusion of drone technology as components of national airspace will contribute about $82.1 billion in jobs and initiating economic growth (Nath, 2017).
A report by Consumer Technology Association estimates that approximately 2.8 million consumer drones will be supplied in the country in the 2016/17 amounting to revenue amounts of over $953 million. Predictive analytics indicate that sales of the drone will hit $12billion by 2021.
The US government is said to have approximately 7000 aerial drones, an increase from about 50 in the previous decade. In last years’ fiscal year budget, $2.9 billion was set out for drone research, development, and procurement (Smith, 2017). The CIA possesses approximately 30 predator and Reaper drones and is operated by Air Force pilots. The DHS has ten unarmed Predator drones that cost an estimated $62 million a year. Predator and Reaper drones are known to cost approximately $2500-$3500 for every hour in flight. Military grade drones as Global Hawk have an operating expenses 10 times of the others totaling to estimated $30000 for every flight hour (Smith, 2017).
The use of drone technology comes with costs among them environmental costs. The use of military drones to carry out air strikes are causes the destructive outcome as other air strikes from manned aerial strikes. The use of drones has been associated with environmental costs to the agricultural harm. Physicians have made conclusions that drone strikes and munitions have been known to create harmful effects to the public health resulting from the chemical contents. One area that has been studied is in Waziristan, Pakistan, a place where the US had concentrated drone strikes. The research team found out that the great number of people experience skin and respiratory diseases after these drone strikes. In 2010, a research study found out that in Fallujah, there were higher cancer rates in 2010 that in regions of Egypt where there were no drone strikes. The rate of infant mortality was recorded at 80deaths for every 1000 live births as compared to 20 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan and 10 in Kuwait.
The drone technology comes with some advantages to the environment. The agricultural sector has adopted the use of drones for carrying out environment monitoring. The drones are effective in collecting data that have assisted in increasing arable farming efficiency, a decrease in the excess use of pesticides, and fertilizers. In some areas, the use of Drone technology is integrated by the agrichemical companies to provide insights from data collected by the drones. This, in turn, makes it easy to identify specific weeds and thereby use a GPS enabled tractor to carry out targeted spraying. Some companies are using drone intelligence to keep tabs and mitigate their environmental impact.
Drone technology has had positive effects on wildlife conservation. Environmental organizations have adopted the drone technology to go against the natural barriers and get critical information related to wildlife. In the Antarctic, activists have adopted the use of drones to monitor and disrupt the illegal Japanese whale hunting. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds also has of late adopted the used of drones for environmental monitoring through thermal imaging, radio tracking, and wide-angle camera for conduct monitoring of endangered and reintroduced types of bird.
The drones are being favored by the environmental conservations due to their low emissions. Majority of the commercial drones do not use fossil fuels thereby contribute fewer levels carbon (IV) oxide as is the common feature with other planes and helicopters. This makes them friendly alternative for activities such as GIS mapping, aerial photography and aerial spraying.
It has become a common practice in the energy industry where drones have been used in monitoring pipelines, wind, and solar farms. These drones have high definition photography gadgets and mapping software. This substitute the need of using helicopters which have more environmental implications. They are effective in enhancing performance and profitability of the sustainable energy providers.
Dalieda, C. (2017). The Biggest Drone Lawsuits ever FInally Settled. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2017/01/18/huge-drone-lawsuit-settled/#v_QYUH.Jiiq1
Droneblog. (2016). Stars in the Sky: Celebs with Drones. Retrieved from https://www.droneblog.com/2016/10/10/stars-in-the-sky-celebs-with-drones/
Meola, A. (2017). The FAA Rules and Regulations You Need to Know to Keep Your Drone Use Legal. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/drones-law-faa-regulations-2017-7?IR=T
Nath, T. (2017). How Drones are Changing the Business World.
Smith, D. (2017). Understanding Drones. Friends Committee on National Legislation .
Walker, J. (2017). Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)- Comparing the USA, Israel, and China. Retrieved from https://www.techemergence.com/unmanned-aerial-vehicles-uavs/
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